Landmarks in law: the moral dilemma of separating conjoined twins

The birth of conjoined twins presented judges at the court of appeal with their most difficult case ever

Twenty-one years ago, the birth of conjoined twins presented a legal and moral dilemma for the court of appeal that the judges involved describe as their most difficult case ever. Gracie and Rosie Attard, known as Jodie and Mary respectively during the legal proceedings, were joined at the abdomen. The medical evidence suggested that if they were separated, Rosie would die almost at once, but Gracie would have a 94% chance of survival. If they were not separated, they would both almost certainly die within six months.

The girls’ parents were devout Roman Catholics and believed that nature should be allowed to take its course, stating: “We have faith in God and we are quite happy for God’s will to decide what happens to our two young daughters.”

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